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Dining in Korea
Dining in Korea can be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your visit.
Rules of Korean
At the beginning of the meal
Wait to be seated
Wait for the oldest person/people to sit down first before you take a seat at the table.
Before you begin
Before you eat, it's polite to say that you are looking forward to the meal. In Korean, people say "Jal mokessumneda" (I will eat well).
Beginning to eat
Wait for the oldest person or host to lift their spoon or chopsticks first before you start eating.
During the meal
Communal side dishes
Korean meals have many communal side dishes that are often passed for you to take just a small portion.
Soup and rice bowls
During the meal, don't hold the bowl of soup or rice leave it on the table as you eat from it.
Accepting dishes or drinks
When someone senior pours a drink for you, hold out your cup with both hands to accept. This also holds true for someone passing you a side dish or something else at the table.
Drinking during a meal
Refilling your glass
Always pour drinks for others first, especially for those senior to you. Typically you never pour your own drink.
When you pour for someone senior to you, use your right hand to pour while you place your left hand lightly under your right hand or under your opposite elbow.
Offers of alcohol
It is considered polite to receive an alcoholic drink offered to you. However, Koreans are very understanding and won't be offended if you do not drink alcohol.
At the end of the meal
Placement of utensils on table
Don't stick your chopsticks straight up into your bowl because that resembles traditional Korean ancestor ceremonies. When you're done, utensils go back on the table.
At the end of your meal it is customary to say something like" "jal mokaussumnida" meaning I ate well.
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